John 5:1-16 Sermon on Jesus Healing the Cripple

See part 2 of this sermon on Jesus’ healing at the pool of Bethesda.

In many parts of the world today, there is much illness and suffering. Here is a picture of some of the victims of the earthquake that hit Haiti last year. A year later there is still widespread misery and great need. If you were in Haiti now and you had Jesus’ ability to instantly heal the sick, what would you do for these people? This morning, we’ll see what Jesus did in just such an instance when He was in a place where there was a multitude of sick, blind, lame, and withered people.

Text: John 5:1-16

John 5:1-5

1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.

3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered,

5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.

3b-4 not in best manuscripts, it is one of the very few passages in Scripture that copyists inserted some additional phrases. Since it is widely accepted that these were not included in the original manuscripts, we will not consider them this morning.

·        Verses 1-5 provide the setting for us for the events that are about to take place.

·        The length of his illness was so great that it made any thought of a cure seem remote, yet this man desperately wanted to be healed. He was apparently unable to even get there by himself. Every day, a family member or friend would have to take him there and then take him back home in the evening.

·        Let’s call the ill man “Helpless” and the one who carried him to the pool of Bethesda and back daily as “Friend”.Perhaps they may have had a conversation like this one on the very day that Jesus healed him. I want to emphasize that this dialogue is not in the Bible, but is made up to help us understand the plight of this man who had been ill so long. The conversation takes place as Friend picks up Helpless and they are on their way to the pool.

     Friend:            Good morning Helpless, how are you doing today?

Helpless:   Not too bad. About the same I guess. How about you?

Friend:             Fine thanks. You know Helpless, I’ve been thinking about your going down to the pool each day to try to get healed. How long have I been taking you there?

Helpless:         Well, let me think. I guess in March it will have been 14 years.

Friend:             And before I started bringing you, your father had brought you daily until he just wasn’t able to do it any longer. How many years did he take you the pool?

Helpless:         Daddy took me to the pool every day for 21 years! I’ve been waiting a long time to be healed and sometimes I get really discouraged and think that maybe I won’t be healed after all.  Friend, I sure appreciate your helping me all this time so that maybe I will be healed. Wouldn’t it be great if todaywas the day that I did finally get healed?

Friend:             Sure, that would be really wonderful, but you know Helpless, you’ve been going to the pool every day now for 35 years. Maybe you need to be realistic and…

Helpless:         Whoa Friend! What are you saying? Are you suggesting that I should just give up and stop going to the pool?

Friend:             Well Helpless, you know I’m happy to bring you to the pool. It’s just that (and I don’t want to be negative), but it really doesn’t look likeyou’re going to be healed. You’ve been ill for 38 years now. You’re getting older and don’t you think that you’d bemore comfortable staying at your home with the time you have left?

Helpless:         I hate to admit it, but I’ve given it a lot of thought lately and I have to agree with you. It really does seem hopeless. I’ve just been wasting my time. Well Friend, here we are at the pool, but I think you’re right and I’ve made up my mind. I’ll go ahead and stay here again today but it’s foolish to keep on coming year after year and hoping for a miracle when it’s obvious I’ll never be healed. Today, I’ll say my “good-byes” to folks here, but I’m going to take your advice and stay at home from now on. This will be the last day I waste at this pool. Friend, I’ll see you at 5:30. Have a good day!

Friend:             You’re making a good decision. If there was any reasonable expectation that you could be healed, I’d encourage you to continue coming here, but realistically, that’s just not going to happen. See you at 5:30.

·        This is like the pattern of sin’s grip on all who refuse to confess it and repent of it to the Lord. Sin’s promise of pleasure soon fades into guilt and a growing sense of bondage. After trying various ways to get free from the enslavement to sin, the sinner eventually becomes resigned to a lifetime of defeat. Like this man who had been ill for 38 years, sin ultimately leads to despair and hopelessness in all those who have not yet met the Savior. Deliverance seems impossible! In fact, deliverance is impossible without Jesus.

Matt 19:26

26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

In mere seconds Jesus will perform the “impossible” and supply the healing that had eluded this man for decades.

6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?

·        Notice, Jesus didn’t say, “Excuse me, could everyone please give me your attention for a moment. Now which one of you here would like to get well? Let Me see your hands now. Hold them high!” No, Jesus singled out just this one guy to heal. Since there was a multitude of sick people there, couldn’t He have just as easily healed them all?Why this one man?

o Had he sought out the Lord to ask for healing? No, on the contrary, the Lord sought him out.

o Had he demonstrated great faith? No, the account doesn’t suggest that he demonstrated any faith at all.

o Had he led an exemplary life to merit special treatment over all the multitude of other sick people who were there? No, there is no indication of him doing anything at all to merit Jesus’ special attention. In fact, about all that it seems he had done for many years was hang out by the pool in hopes of getting healed.

o So,why would Jesus select only this man from the multitude in need there to bestow His divine healing favor? Let’s look at a three scriptures to help us answer this question.

Rom 9:15-16


16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Eph 1:4-5

4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

o So, if we understand and accept what these verses say, it’s clear why the Lord demonstrates His mercy and grace to some and not to others.

1.  God has mercy and compassion on those whom He sovereignly decides to have mercy and compassion on.

2.  God’s choice is in no way dependent on the will or actions of man (past, present, or future).

3.  God chose us before we existed, even before He created the world!


God = 100% credit for salvation       Man = 0%

4.  Lastly, we see the and if you’re a child of God, it makes you want to fall down and worship Him. The basis is the kind intention of His willHe desires to bless us and do good for us!

Some very wrongly view the Lord as being unkind or unfair because He doesn’t choose some. Their conclusion could not be more completely wrong! The fact is we because we are sinners, we all deserve an eternity in hell, and it’s only because of His compassion and mercy that He graciously saves any of us! The sovereign choice of God should never be the source of resentment toward Him, but always of rejoicing and thanksgiving! In our passage today, the Lord was not unfair or unkind to the multitude of other sick people at the pool that day, but He was indeed very gracious to this one man.

·        Some might think it’s a strange question for Jesus to ask the man if he want to be healed, but it’s not true that everybody in hospitals wants to be healed. Some actually prefer to be ill because they like the attention or lack of responsibility that comes from illness.

7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

·        His answer clearly communicates that he indeed did want to be healed. His response also indicates his total helplessness in achieving this result himself.

8Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 

·        Jesus, of course, wasn’t limited to a single way of healing people. As the One through whom all of creation exists, our Lord was very creative and used various ways to heal.

o He took a dead little girl’s hand and told her to arise.

o Heput mud in a blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash it out.

o He merely states that healing has taken place in another village because of the person’s faith.

o He just touches the person.

o Puts His fingers in a man’s ears and touching his tongue with His saliva.

o Many were healed by touching the fringe of His cloak.

In this instance, as in several others, Jesus simply issues a command and the man is healed instantly and completely.

9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.  Now it was the Sabbath on that day.

·        How much credit should this man receive for being healed? You might say, “what a silly question, he should receive no credit for his healing. Jesus should receive all the credit.” That’s exactly right. Jesus should receive 100% of the glory for healing him. It’s the same principle we examined earlier that God gets 100% of the credit for saving us. We should never try to take any credit ourselves for God’s work. Give Him all the glory!

Jesus = 100%                                          Man = 0%

·        After Jesus healed him, the man’s immediate response was obedience. He could have:

1.  … said his friend would get it for him when he stopped by for him at 5:30

2.  … suggested that now was a time to celebrate and he’d come back and pick it up later

3.  … decided to offer it to the man next to him who needed a better pallet

4.  … come up with any number of ideas that differed from what Jesus told him to do.

·        When Jesus gives us simple instructions to live by (hold up the Bible), we should not delay, we should not try to do it our way, we should not consider it less important than other tasks, and we certainly should not ignore it. Our response, like this man’s, should be to immediately obey Him!

·        Also, in this verse, we see that Jesus made a point of healing this man on the Sabbath. This was not an incidental fact, but is of primary importance. In numerous healings, Scripture makes a point of recording the fact that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Jesus did this to expose the warped legalistic way that the scribes and Pharisees were interpreting and observing the Sabbath.

·        Jesus instantly got their attention and also their true heart was revealed!

See part 2 of this sermon on Jesus’ healing at the pool of Bethesda.